The Indian story that the American media missed

Every year, for the last 31 years, Project Censored has been compiling a list of the major stories that the American media have ‘ignored, misreported or poorly covered”.

Story No. 8 on a list of 10 concerns India. This is the verbatim excerpt.

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8. KIA: THE NEOLIBERAL INVASION OF INDIA

A March 2006 pact under which the United States agreed to supply nuclear fuel to India for the production of electric power also included a less-publicized corollary—the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture.

While it’s purportedly a deal to assist Indian farmers and liberalize trade, critics say the initiative is destroying India’s local agrarian economy by encouraging the use of genetically modified seeds, which in turn is creating a new market for pesticides and driving up the overall cost of producing crops.

The deal provides a captive customer base for genetically modified seed maker Monsanto and a market for cheap goods to supply Wal-Mart, whose plans for 500 stores in the country could wipe out the livelihoods of 14 million small vendors.

Monsanto’s hybrid Bt cotton has already edged out local strains, and India is currently suffering an infestation of mealy bugs, which have proven immune to the pesticides the chemical companies have made available. Additionally, the sowing of crops has shifted from the traditional to the trade friendly. Farmers accustomed to cultivating mustard, a sacred local crop, are now producing soy, a plant foreign to India.

Though many farmers are seeing the folly of these deals, it’s often too late. Suicide has become a popular final act of opposition to what’s occurring in their country.

Vandana Shiva, who for 10 years has been studying the effects of bad trade deals on India, has published a report titled Seeds of Suicide, which recounts the deaths of more than 28,000 farmers who killed themselves in despair over the debts brought on them by binding agreements ultimately favoring corporations.

Hope comes in the form of a growing cadre of farmers hip to the flawed deals. They’ve organized into local sanghams, 72 of which now exist as small community networks that save and share seeds, skills, and assistance during the good times of harvest and the hard times of crop failure.

Sources: “Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India,” Democracy Now!, Dec. 13, 2006; “Genetically Modified Seeds: Women in India take on Monsanto,” Arun Shrivastava, Global Research (Web site of Montreal’s Center for Global Research), Oct. 9, 2006

Read the full story: Censored! , The runners-up

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